‘Chemical Imbalance’ – the biggest medical fraud, ever
For more than 30 years, psychiatry has been complicit with pharmaceutical company marketing in forwarding the largest fraud in the history of medicine: the lie of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression.
There have been many statements, even from within psychiatry itself, that this theory was simply a falsehood, something made up in the marketing rooms of big pharma to sell drugs and yes, billions of dollars later, one could say it certainly did that. Any statements that the theory was nothing more than nonsense were drowned out by marketing. 1 2
And psychiatry? Too much money was being made to correct the record and restore integrity apparently.
The theory reviewed and exposed.
Something new happened in July 2022. A large review was done of all evidence for the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory and just as predicted, there was no evidence to validate the theory at all – Joanna Moncrieff, Ruth E. Cooper, Tom Stockmann, Simone Amendola, Michael P. Hengartner & Mark A. Horowitz. ‘The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence’
“This review suggests that the huge research effort based on the serotonin hypothesis has not produced convincing evidence of a biochemical basis to depression. This is consistent with research on many other biological markers. We suggest it is time to acknowledge that the serotonin theory of depression is not empirically substantiated.” 3
Psychiatry’s response? Surely the jig was up?
Surely faced with this new evidence of no evidence wasn’t it time to knuckle down and actually address depression?
Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to review what was known about depression, throw out all the fixed ideas and rubbish, find the cause for depression and then work out an actual cure? You know, actually, behave like an actual science?
After the release of the July 2022 study media statements from psychiatrists began to occur with a common message – “yes, but the drugs still work.”
Obviously, pharma marketing wasn’t going to sit quietly and let their cash-cow lie be debunked. And who better to do so than their partners in crime, psychiatrists?
But do the drugs ‘still work’?
It all depends on your definition of WORK.
Do they mean providing drugs that ‘still work’ when all they do is merely suppress symptoms, never addressing the reason for depression, and so turn patients into repeat ‘forever’ customers?
And do they mean the drugs ‘still work’ when one-third of all patients said to have major depressive disorder did not respond to antidepressants? 4
And do they mean the drugs ‘still work’ when analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by drug companies and found through Freedom of Information revealed that in fact, most (if not all) of the benefits of antidepressants are due to the placebo effect? Some antidepressants increase serotonin levels, some decrease it, and some have no effect at all on serotonin. 6
It would seem the only thing that can be guaranteed about antidepressants ‘working’ – they make big pharma and psychiatrists a great deal of money.
- Ronald W Pies. Psychiatry’s New Brain-Mind and the Legend of the “Chemical Imbalance.” Psychiatric Times. 2011.
- Ronald W. Pies Debunking the Two Chemical Imbalance Myths, Again Psychiatric Times. 2019.
- Joanna Moncrieff, Ruth E. Cooper, Tom Stockmann, Simone Amendola, Michael P. Hengartner & Mark A. Horowitz. ‘The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence’
- V Popova, E J. Daly, M Trivedi, K Cooper, R Lane, P Lim, C Mazzucco, D Hough, M E Thase, R C Shelton, P Molero, E Vieta, M Bajbouj, H Manji, W C Drevets, J B. Singh. Efficacy and Safety of Flexibly Dosed Esketamine Nasal Spray Combined With a Newly Initiated Oral Antidepressant in Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Randomized Double-Blind Active-Controlled Study 2019. American Journal of Psychiatry.
- Furukawa TA, Cipriani A, Atkinson LZ, Leucht S, Ogawa Y, Takeshima N, Hayasaka Y, Chaimani A, Salanti G. Placebo response rates in antidepressant trials: a systematic review of published and unpublished double-blind randomised controlled studies. Lancet Psychiatry. 2016 Nov;3(11):1059-1066.
- Kirsch I. Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect. Z Psychol. 2014;222(3):128-134.